After Chinese female tennis player Peng Shuai publicly alleged that she was sexually assaulted by former Deputy Prime Minister Zhang Gaoli, the head of the International Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) Steve Simon has been paying attention and supporting her.
On December 2, the International Women’s Tennis Association announced that it would suspend all Chinese competitions. Simon (Steve Simon) said that he very much doubts whether Peng Shuai is “free, safe and not intimidated”.
He said: “Ask yourself, how can I ask the athletes to compete in China.”
Internationally, there is no lack of praise and praise for the attitude, position and actions of Simon openly criticizing China and putting principles above financial interests.
Who is Simon?
The International Women’s Tennis Association has this description of Simon’s profile: “From the first day he took office…he advocated for change.”
Steve Simon is 66 years old and was born in California, USA. For many years, his motto has been: “Do the right thing.” But before the Peng Shuai incident, he always stood behind the tennis stars, without the current exposure.
Simon has been fond of tennis since he was a child, and started to learn it when he was 10 years old. He played all the way until he entered California State University Long Beach.
In 1981, he qualified for the mixed doubles at Wimbledon, but was eliminated in the first round.
After graduating from college, he became a tennis coach and then worked in sports sponsorship and sales. He joined the Indian Wells tennis tournament in 1989 and became the tournament director in 2014.
He has worked in this position for 12 years and started some innovations during his tenure. For example, in 2011, he became the first game to introduce Hawkeye video playback technology in all stadiums.
Under his promotion, men’s and women’s doubles have become the “fifth largest event” in international tennis, second only to the four majors, and one of the most popular events among players.
Listen attentively and fully support
When he left the Indian Wells Tennis Open to take up the top position in the International Women’s Tennis Association WTA, his appointment was supported by WTA founder Billie Jean King (Billie Jean King).
King used to call him “thinking and respectful.” The top international women’s tennis players such as Serena Williams, Maria Sharapova and Caroline Wozniacki ( Caroline Wozniacki) expressed support for him.
Simon helped the players to become well-known, and Williams has a special understanding of this.
Williams won 23 Grand Slam titles, but because of racism, he boycotted Indian Wells for 14 years. But she finally returned to this event in 2015, in which Simon personally participated in a lot of persuasion work.
Williams said at the time: “I returned to the Indian Wells Tennis Open this year. Steve did his best to give me the best, most professional, and most supportive help. I know how much he cares about the players’ opinions. He Always listen to our opinions patiently, thinking about how we can get our best interests.”
During the 2018 U.S. Open finals, Williams was accused of sex discrimination by referee Carlos Ramos. Simon supported her, saying that this incident raised the question of “whether there are different standards for men and women” in refereeing work.
At the 2019 French Open, the match changed the women’s semi-final match from the home court after being disturbed by the weather. The goalkeeper publicly expressed opposition, saying that such a decision was “unfair and inappropriate.”
However, his full support for the players is not without controversy.
In 2017, when Sharapova returned to the game after being suspended for illicit drugs, she received special preferential treatment for wildcards. The competition caused dissatisfaction among some players. However, Simon defended the decision and said that it was treated in the same way as other sports. The practice of suspended athletes is the same.
Negotiator and conscientious businessman
Simon not only takes care of the welfare of the players, but also improves the financial situation of the players.
In 2019, Ashleigh Barty (Ashleigh Barty) won the WTA Finals in Shenzhen, China, with a record prize of 4.42 million US dollars. This is the highest prize ever in a men’s and women’s tennis match.
This is part of the large-scale promotion agreement he negotiated for the tour to Asian countries, including a 10-year agreement to host the finals of the tour by Shenzhen.
At the time, Simon called this agreement “the largest and most important finals agreement since the establishment of the International Women’s Tennis Association 45 years ago.” And now, if the International Women’s Tennis Association leaves China permanently, this will be the most critical financial consequence.
He is also worried about the economic consequences of the decision to withdraw from the Chinese game, but he said, “How can we turn a blind eye to such a thing.”
“If we make a request but don’t stick to it, then we are telling the world that we don’t need to take sexual assault seriously and seriously. But we all know that it is unacceptable.”
As a businessman and negotiator, Simon may face the most severe challenges in the coming weeks and months.